Author and Messenger of Peace
Editor’s Note: Cassandra Curley recently joined Gandhi’s Be Magazine. Author, Messenger of Peace, and visionary for the 2,500 mile Walk for Peace, Cassandra Curley blogs on her 2,500 mile journey across America, walking 50 miles in each state in 50 weeks for her 50th birthday and the lessons she learned and shared with others along the way about “Walking for Peace.”
How fitting that the first entry of this 50 week blog falls on Earth Day 2015, because Peace is living in accordance with Nature. That is the core of the message I wrote about and shared on a 2500 mile “Path to Peace Walk” I took in 2011 and 2012. Now kind Reader, I would like to share with you this journey that brought me to every state in our nation, tested my perseverance, and taught me much about this beautiful country and its people. I hope you gain some insight about how we can achieve Peace and glean a bit of inspiration to share with others.
Helen Keller expressed my own sentiment when she shared, “I do not want the peace that passeth understanding, I want the understanding which bringeth peace.” Understanding does bring Peace, just as uncertainty invites Fear. Those statements may not seem clear until you consider times you have experienced peace and fear. When you have felt certain about a truth, there is a sense of calm peace. Likewise, the uncertain or unknown often invokes fear. Most every day of the walk I wore a t-shirt with the crusade cry “Be Fearless!” displayed on my front, as I embodied that spirit. I was fearless – there was never a doubt about the task ahead or the ability to achieve it.
The message I heralded was simple and clear: certainties displayed in nature and inherent in human nature have become obscured by false beliefs. Most important of these certainties are Nature’s cohesiveness, sustainability, adaptability and harmony. As we are part of Nature, we are born with these same qualities, but sometimes learn otherwise. Most egregious of the false lessons come from teachings that draw us away from our connectedness – those that tell us that we are apart from one another. When we are taught, and believe, that only certain ways of living are right and that other ways are wrong, we become disconnected and judgmental – qualities that are unnatural. These teachings not only overshadow our innate impulse to connect with one another and live in harmony, but they can instill fear about those who are deemed different. But, we always have the potential to restore peace by remembering our “true nature”. This is what I fervently wanted to convey to everyone I could.
The plan for the walk was to allot 50 weeks to walk 50 miles in all 50 states and celebrate my 50th birthday – an attainable goal by my estimate, but one I had never attempted. The proposed method was idealistic at best and preposterous at least: set up speaking engagements or presentations in each state to share my message; rely on book sales, sponsorships, resourcefulness, and the kindness of strangers to fund the effort; and create a momentum that would launch a movement! It was a grand scheme – lacking in forethought but heavy on conviction. February 7 was the starting day as it was exactly twenty-five weeks to my fiftieth birthday, the half-way mark to my goal. It was also the middle of winter and a good time to start a cross country journey from my home state of Florida. “I’ll follow the mild weather and complete the southeast first,” I thought. It seemed a good plan and out my front door I went.
I covered sixteen miles the first day, with neighbors and friends waving me out of my neighborhood, down to the health center my husband, Mark, and I own, further on the road to a nearby trail and back home. The first day was exhilarating and ended with me grasping the hand of my seventy-something-year-old neighbor who happened to be walking toward my house and trotted unexpectedly with me on the final hundred feet. Sixteen miles down and only 2484 to go!
Overall, Florida was very good to me, as that is the state of my birth, the place I first became attuned to nature and her beauty, and where I have the most family, friends and support. Accompanied enroute by Mark, I walked in Orlando (where I lived), Tampa (where I was born), outside Jacksonville (where I grew up), Tallahassee (the capitol and where my oldest brother lives), and Lavarre (where a dear friend welcomed me) for a total of 48 miles. The last two miles would be reserved for the final day of the walk to invite followers to help walk me back to my front door and end the journey. Each town in this first state allowed me an opportunity to broadcast the message of unity (Jacksonville gave the first television coverage), connect with like minds, and receive much encouragement. We were off to a good start!